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Shaler Area teachers plan strike unless deal reached

| Thursday, June 13, 2013, 1:01 p.m.

Shaler Area School District teachers will strike on the first day of the 2013-14 academic year if they can't reach a contract deal with the district, the teachers union said Thursday.

The Shaler Area Education Association represents about 390 teachers, guidance counselors, nurses, librarians and other staff members who have been working under the terms of a four-year contract that expired Aug. 15, 2011.

“The SAEA has been working tirelessly over the last 30 months to avoid a work stoppage and to reach a fair and equitable settlement,” math teacher and union President Melissa Ravas said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the board has not been reasonable. They actually presented a regressive proposal during fact-finding, which moved us further apart.”

Superintendent Wes Shipley has said if teachers choose to strike, negotiations will move to “last best offer” arbitration.

Union and district leaders are to negotiate again on June 20 and 25, Ravas said.

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board appointed two fact-finders to make contract recommendations.

The school board and the union rejected the first fact-finder's report, issued Oct. 31, 2011. The board accepted recommendations in a May 20 report, but the union rejected them.

Issues in the dispute include the length of a new contract, wages and heath care insurance.

The school district proposed a contract that would run for three years, while the union advocated a five-year deal that would be retroactive to 2011 and run until 2016. The second fact finder recommended a four-year contract retroactive to 2011.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662.

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